• What is poverty?
  • How does poverty affect your country?
  • What examples of poverty have you seen in Vancouver?
  • Where do you think are the poorest places on the Earth?
  • What causes poverty? Make a list of possible causes and rank them.
  • Why are some regions, areas of the world, or countries more poor than others?
  • How can we solve poverty? Is it even possible?
  • Google “solving global poverty.” What sorts of websites come up?
  • Do rich people, regions, or countries have a responsibility to help people in poorer areas? If so, how should they do it?

Part One - Introduction

Before you read, make sure you understand this vocabulary:

  • squatter
  • shanty towns
  • dubbed
  • voyeurism
  • pros and cons

Poverty Tourism: Exploring the Slums of India, Brazil and South Africa

by Amanda Kendle

poor kid

Pick your way through a squatter settlement of Mumbai, India, where one million people live in an area half the size of New York’s Central Park. Step over rats in the shanty towns around Rio de Janeiro. Or meet local South Africans living in a Soweto township near Johannesburg, dubbed the most dangerous city outside of war zones. These kinds of activities all fall under the heading of poverty tourism.

Like many forms of dark tourism, poverty tourism – sometimes called poorism – has only been given its label recently. Poverty tourism commonly refers to small organized tours that you can take upon arriving in a city, and these tours will walk or drive you through an area of extreme poverty. When I first heard the term it sounded like pure voyeurism to me – come and watch how the funny poor guys live – but when you dig a bit deeper, the pros and cons of poverty tourism become much more complicated.

What do you do on a poverty your?

While poverty tours exist in all parts of the world – even in developed countries, there are tours of the immigrant zone of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, or around poor areas of Houston or New York – the most common tours you’ll hear about are those of the favelas in Rio de Janeiro, the shanty towns in South Africa, and of the squatter settlements of India, particularly in large cities like Mumbai. Some of these trips have been running for the best part of two decades, usually quietly, without heavy promotion. Let’s take a look at three different poverty tours to try to better understand the situation.


  • What is Poverty Tourism?
  • What do you do on one of these tours?

Part Two - Favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Before you read, make sure you understand this vocabulary:

  • push the barrier
  • striving
  • reputable
  • entrepreneurs
  • their cut

Favela tours are perhaps the most well-known form of poverty tourism. And perhaps because they’re known, and many tourists want to take one, they push the barrier of what is acceptable – at least that’s my opinion. One of the original guide companies, Favela Tours, which has been operating over fifteen years already, do it right: the company founder Marcelo Armstrong knows a lot about the complicated situation of poverty in Rio, and is keen to show tourists that even in favelas, the people are striving to develop, and he takes his tours to community day care centers and radio stations run by the locals. But the business of taking tourists into favelas has been around long enough now that less reputable entrepreneurs are also trying to take their cut of the tourist dollar, and that’s clearly bad for the favelas and bad for the tourists.


  • Describe the favelas.
  • How does Favela Tours help the local people in the favelas?

Part Three - Township Tours, South Africa

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